The ground your home is sitting on could very well be harming you. A 14-month USA Today investigation revealed that the health of thousands of families could be in jeopardy due to potentially hazardous levels of lead in the soil—a possibility government regulators were told of more than a decade ago. The contamination springs from lead-smelting factories that operated between the 1930s and the 1960s in hundreds of neighborhoods. But the EPA and local officials repeatedly failed to clean up the mess, or warn residents, or even determine how dangerous many of the 464 potential locations identified by an environmental scientist in 2001 could be. Among USA Today's more damning findings:
- Minnesota, Indiana, and Washington regulators told the EPA there never were smelters in several locations, but here's where the paper's reporters found proof of those smelters: in "old insurance maps, town council minutes, city directories, telephone books, [and] historical photos posted on the Web."
- The EPA recommended soil tests in many Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Wisconsin neighborhoods that were never conducted.
- Tests did turn up hazardous lead levels near places like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Portland, but years passed before residents were told or cleanups were conducted.
- The paper's tests found four contaminated sports fields in a Brooklyn park; officials closed them after learning of this.
Click to read USA Today's lengthy findings
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